A Tain-based glass studio is enjoying the fruits of ambitious growth plans supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The four-strong team of craftsmen recently supplied 50 bespoke bottles to William Grant and Sons Ltd for its Glenfiddich 50 Year Old Whisky, which sold to collectors around the world for £10,000 a bottle. The order confirms the position of Tain studio, Glasstorm, among very few suppliers worldwide working at this level in a specialist supply chain.
The commission co-incided with another from Channel 4 Television to produce glass droplet shaped hanging vases which are being seen by millions of viewers during the current Big Brother series.
Glasstorm Studio Ltd was set up by art school graduates Brodie Nairn and Nicky Burns five years ago and produces a range of glass products for local and national markets.
However, ambitions to win bigger, higher value contracts have enabled the small business to gain advice and specialist support through HIE's account management model. The go-ahead business has made best use of schemes such as the STEP student placement programme, and used advisory support to develop plans to pursue high value contracts in the commercial drinks sector. The future for the Glasstorm studio includes plans to become an arts destination encompassing workshops and gallery space and to expand into new markets and provide a design consultancy service.
Brodie explains: “It has been fantastic for us to work with a company like William Grant & Sons Ltd which has such global reach. It was also a new experience for them to have a micro business like ours as part of their supply chain. There was enormous enthusiasm on both sides to make this the success that it has proved to be.
“For our market we need to ensure that the service we provide is top quality in every respect. The help we've received from HIE has been invaluable in ensuring that our business knowledge, marketing and customer service matches the quality of our products.”
The impressive price tag for the Glenfiddich 50 Year Old whisky did not deter Michael Maskell, a collector of Glasstorm work, from securing one of the prestigious bottles. And yesterday (Monday, June 21) he returned to the studio of show the final product to the Tain glass artists.
Brodie explained: “It took us two months to complete the order. Each bottle took days to create. Other parts of the presentation were provided to a similarly high standard so we were keen to see the finished product.
“It is much more than a bottle of rare whisky, every aspect of it is an expression of excellence and it's a source of considerable pride to our team to have won the commission to produce these bottles.”
Glasstorm will supply 50 more bottles every year for the next eight years, until all 450 Glenfiddich 50 Year Old bottles have been released.
Jeni Oliver, HIE's development manager with the Inner Moray Firth team explained: “Our work with Glasstorm is a good example of the way in which HIE can be of assistance. Regardless of a company's size, we can support their ambition to grow their markets, to internationalise their customer base and provide advice on the systems and procedures needed to do this.”
Photo caption. Glass collector Michael Maskell (left) with Brodie Nairn of Glasstorm who made the bottle for the de luxe £10,000 Glenfiddich whisky.